There are people who dream their whole lives about the home they would love to live in.
Sometimes those dreams come true and sometimes, not so much. But in these dreams of a perfect home, there never is the thought of hurricane warnings or bugs flying everywhere. Of carpets that are older than the house itself, or toilets that you make a wish on before you flush… I am pretty sure that is never in a future homeowner’s dream.
Now, I grew up in the suburbs of Fair Lawn, New Jersey. We had trees, we had grass, we had central air conditioning. Thank God, it was lovely. And my parents and their friends never ever talked about going to “the country” for the summer. We had a cousin from Brooklyn who went to an exotic place called Beaver Lake, it was a bungalow colony, but we never were invited, so how exciting could it really be? And Brooklyn is different from New Jersey. The parking, the tolls to get out of Brooklyn, the overabundance of shops that sell long black skirts… So, perhaps, we could understand why they wanted a change of scenery, with fresh air and deer and bears.
I moved to Teaneck and one of my first friends would tell me about the bungalow colony that her in-laws would go to every summer and how much they loved it. But she didn’t understand how they could go from a beautiful house to a bungalow. So I am trying to imagine in my head what a bungalow would look like, and it sort of looked like something built with my boys’ Lincoln Logs. As it turns out, I wasn’t so far off. But one year, my friend informed me that she was going to the bungalow colony for the summer. She was a little nervous about the whole thing, which is pretty funny now, because she practically counts down until she can get the heck out of Teaneck…
So what is a bungalow colony? Let me be honest — a bungalow colony is a camp for grown-ups. Specifically, it is a camp for wives. The majority of husbands are away all week. They say they go to work. I am assuming that the smart husbands are taking off during the week and telling their wives they are working.
Back to the wives.
The bungalow colony is a place where kids roam free and their moms relax by the pool. Well, some of them. Some of them are running or hiking or biking or doing yoga. Those are the crazy ones, but man do they all look good by summer’s end. Then there are those women who take up needlepoint or sunbathing or reading or just staring into the blue sky and pondering the meaning of life, while their kids run in and out of the bungalow foraging for snacks or bug spray or suntan lotion or more snacks.
A bungalow colony is where almost every Shabbos, there is some form of a community meal where everyone makes something and everyone sits together, helps set up, and helps clean up. During the week there are activities, everyone is busy and happy and tan, and some nice man drives around in a little truck picking up the garbage so the bears don’t take over.
Husband #1 and I used to go visit our friend every summer. We realized we hadn’t been there in three years, so we booked visiting-day weekend months in advance — it is in very high demand because you save more than an hour of driving when you go to camp from there. The downside? You can’t bring your kid fresh Dunkin’ Donuts, which usually turns out to be a good thing because the line Sunday morning is so long. #whatwedoforourkids.
Anyway, we were all excited about the weekend, and when we arrived, we discover that Mordechai Shapiro has a bungalow in the same colony.
For those of you who don’t know who that is, he is like the Justin Timberlake of the modern Orthodox world. My Oreos (my son#1, who wears only white and black, along with son #2, who is almost an Oreo, and son #3, who likes to eat Oreos) all think he is amazing. His voice, his midot (positive character traits) — he is just a great role model, with an amazing gift of singing. What could be better?
He led the services Shabbos morning, which was a real delight, and then I got to ask him creepy questions about his fame. But then I had to stop because I was afraid my friend was going to ask me to leave the colony, and it was a really long walk home.
But as always, it was an amazing weekend, because bungalow colonies, though they sound a little sketchy, are really quite entertaining. Especially when you like almost everyone who is there….
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck hopes you enjoyed part two of this series. Now she has to go do some laundry because the nine days is over and her very religious sons have run out of clean clothes…..